Thursday, May 28, 2009

Soloviev on Love and the Imagination

"Seeing that this individual being, in his given reality, does not enter into the unity of the all, but exists separately as an individualized material phenomenon, then the object of our believing love is necesarily to be distinguished from the empirical object of our instinctive love, though it is also inseparably bound up with it. It is one and the same person in two distinguishable aspects, or in two different spheres of being-the ideal and the real. The first is as yet only an idea. By steadfast, believing and insightful love, however, we know that this idea is not an arbitrary fiction of our own, but that it expresses the truth of the object, only a truth as yet not realized in the sphere of external, real phenomena.

This true idea of the beloved object, though it shines through the real phenomenon in the instant of love's intense emotion, is at first manifested in a clearer aspect only as the object of imagination. The concrete form of this imagination, the ideal image in which I clothe the beloved person at the given moment, is of course created by me, but it is not created out of nothing."

- Vladimir Soloviev
"The Meaning of Love*

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Letter to Commonweal from Dorothy Day: May 21, 1948

"War is deviltry. It calls for sacrifices indeed, but not at the altar of love. “Greater love hath no man than this.” A great blasphemy this, to use Christ’s words in connection with men going to war. They go because they are drafted, because they are afraid of what their neighbors will say, because the pay is good, because the benefits accruing afterward (the G.I. Bill of Rights) are great. And they are told by the press and the pulpit that they are going because they love their fellows, and they are filled with a warm glow of self-love. And then they are given their intensive training in how to escape death, how to kill. Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his brothers, and the Russians are our brothers, the Negro is our brother, the Japanese are our brothers, the Germans, the Mexicans, the Filipinos, the Jews, the Arabs.

So let’s not have any more talk about God and country. The battle is for this world, for the possessions of this world.”

(Dorothy Day, “Letter to the Editor,” Commonweal, May 21, 1948.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hollis Frampton on the Burden of Photographic Criticism

“The problematics of a possible art of photography are those of a text under extreme pressure, both from without (that is, from language, on the one hand, and from the respectable visual arts on the other) and from within: only weariness can condone forgiving as philosophic naïveté the incomparable levity of most photographers, who have traditionally dismissed art in favor of a polemical nonesuch suspended somewhere or other between the anecdotal and the retinal. To seek to extricate, from the accumulated images, a photographic discourse, is to confront an historic surface replete with digressions, qualifications, variant readings, alternative formulations, contradictions…all set off in the visual equivalents of quotation marks, inverted commas, parentheses, brackets, vincula, braces…or else in footnotes and marginalia that far outbulk, and long ago submerged, the codex itself.”

Hollis Frampton
September, 1975

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Commencement Speech of Graduating Class of Kenyon College, 2005, by David Foster Wallace

"And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving and [unintelligible -- sounds like "displayal"]. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day."